There are certain times in life when you feel sexy, luscious, and confident. Maybe after getting your hair done, or when you’re wearing a new outfit, or when you’ve met someone new. Then there’s the time when you’re a new mum. Your [giant] boobs leak at every awkward opportunity, your pregnancy glow is gone, you’re suffering from post-partum hair loss (bye bye, glossy locks!) and you have a small screaming human constantly attached to you which some idiot has given you the job of keeping alive. In terms of feeling glamorous, being a new mum ranks pretty low on the scale.
Despite all the shitty side-effects that come after having a tiny person thrust out of you , being a new mum has given me back some of the confidence that my anxiety disorder stole. Why? I’m so glad you asked!
I am not in control, and I love it.
For the first time in my life, I’ve realised that things are going to happen that are completely out of my control. Lila might sleep well every night of the week, except for the night before a planned event. I could take her out of the house with every possible thing packed in the nappy bag, but that won’t stop her from having a poop explosion in the middle of the supermarket. I might plan to see a friend, but then have to cancel at the last minute because she’s sick or cranky or fussy. I can’t predict what’s going to happen, and part of my disorder is that I constantly try to predict what’s going to happen. All this uncertainty has been such a vital lesson for me – having a baby is teaching me that the unexpected does happen. But that I can handle it. I’ve gotten by on two hours sleep. I’ve laughed off the both of us being covered in poo (as has everyone around me.) I’ve cancelled and rescheduled many times and no one has cared. Being a mum means that you’re constantly getting put in situations that are out of your control, but you find a way to manage them and you always get by.
My body is amazing.
The chances that I’ve said that sentence before in anything other than a sarcastic tone are slim. But this time I mean it. Oh hey stomach, you held a 3kg child inside, go you! And let’s not even mention how impressively far I can spray breast milk across the room from my porn-star-sized boobs. (Okay, let’s mention it.) Being a mum has made me appreciate just what my body was made to do, and what it’s capable of. I spent many years starving myself and binging and picking apart all of my features in the mirror. I hated myself for so long; my boobs were too big, my arms not toned, my ass too flat and my tummy not flat enough. But now I know those boobs feed my baby, the arms carry her, and my tummy kept her safe. The body is a pretty incredible thing; the female body especially (sorry males) so it’s perfectly acceptable to stand in front of the mirror naked and high five yourself. Every damn day.
Someone thinks I’m the bees knees.
Pre-baby, if I had the misfortune to wake up at 4 AM for no particular reason, I probably wouldn’t have looked in the mirror and thought ‘HEY YOU! I LOVE YOU!’ (Okay, maybe several times while inebriated…) These days, when I’m woken at the asscrack of dawn by a little screaming baby, I stumble over to her cot, and while I’m blearily trying to process what is happening, this tiny face stares up at me and smiles. She’ll be mid-cry, little fists balled up by her sides about to cut loose with a huge wail, but then she’ll see me and she’ll just light up. And ‘HEY YOU! I LOVE YOU!’ seems to be exactly what she’s thinking. It’s an amazing feeling to know that there is this small person who loves you unconditionally. If I look like shit, she loves me. If I’m grumpy, she loves me. If my outfit ain’t on point, she still loves me. Without saying ‘my baby has validated my existence’, her unconditional love has proved to me that I need to give myself a pat on the back far more often. I might not be perfect, but in her eyes I’m pretty damn close. Out of all the things in life I beat myself up for, being a mum isn’t one of them, because so far I seem to be doing a damn good job.
Becoming a mum is a huge change, and I certainly didn’t take to it straight away. (May or may not have spent the second week crying on the floor in the nursery almost everyday…) In those early days, there is no way that I would’ve imagined I’d soon be strutting around the house, one boob out, dirty hair and clothes, and feeling utterly fabulous, but there you go. I’ve learnt to relinquish control, to slow down, to embrace my body and to respect myself enough to say, ‘Hey hot mamma, you’re alright.’